Belfast Telegraph

Axing David Healy just wrong, says John Aldridge

By Frank Brownlow

David Healy’s exclusion from the Northern Ireland squad was last night branded a “poor decision” by a Liverpool and Republic of Ireland goalscoring legend.

John Aldridge scored for fun during a glittering career — and was shocked that Northern Ireland record goalscorer Healy has been left out of the squad for next Wednesday’s clash with Morocco at Windsor Park.

“Nigel Worthington has made a poor decision and I’m sure David will feel aggrieved about it,” said Aldridge.

“I’m sure David wanted to play in the match — he’s done tremendously well at international level. His goalscoring record for Northern Ireland is tremendous.”

Healy (31), who has bagged 35 international goals including the historic winner against England at Windsor Park in 2005, last week joined Doncaster Rovers on loan from Sunderland, scoring on his debut against Millwall on Saturday.

“I saw him playing for Sunderland reserves against Liverpool reserves last week which must have been a bit of a culture shock for a player of his quality,” added Aldridge.

“But to be fair to him, he put everything into the game, but playing for the reserves isn’t ideal. He needs first team football and he’s now getting that.

“The Championship is a good level. When I was playing at that level for Tranmere, (Republic of Ireland manager) Jack Charlton still picked me. It’s all about being match fit,” he stressed.

And Aldridge was delighted to see his former club Liverpool beat champions and league leaders Chelsea on Sunday and underlined the importance of following that result up with a win at Wigan tonight.

“Liverpool need to go to Wigan with a positive attitude and hopefully come away with a positive result.

“If that doesn’t happen, particularly after the high of Sunday, it will be a real knock-back.

“I was devastated after last month’s defeat at Everton. There we were second from bottom, just West Ham below us. That was hard to take as a passionate Liverpool fan.

“But they have managed to turn it round somewhat. The players are regaining their belief and confidence.

“Torres is playing with a smile on his face which is something we haven’t seen for some time.

“I think the new owners may actually have sat down with Torres and had a chat because we saw a massive difference against Chelsea. Maybe he has been given assurances about what’s going to happen at the club down the line.

“Torres has to be given the ammunition, through good service, to score goals, particularly now that he has found a bit of form.

“Liverpool need to be more creative and open. But the manner of the win over Chelsea will certainly have helped in that respect,” he said.

“I hope that come the January transfer window the new owners bare their teeth and give Roy Hodgson £25m or so. If a few players could be sold you could have a kitty of about £40m which could do some damage. Then maybe make a move for the likes of Shaun Wright-Phillips and Andy Carroll.”

Aldridge picked out Everton’s Donegal-born Seamus Coleman (22) as a rising star who could play a major role for the Republic of Ireland.

He said: “Coleman can be a big, big player. He’s been phenomenal for Everton — a mini Gareth Bale. And he has a lot more to offer.

“We need people like Coleman in the international set-up to drive us forward.”

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